The resurgence of Ravindra Jadeja
Being 240 points ahead of the second ranked New Zealand in the ICC Test Championship, India have almost all bases covered in their starting XI.
India's middle order of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane is inarguably the best in the world at the moment. However, in recent times, India has lacked a solid number six, someone who plays as a bridge between the experienced middle order and the lower order.
Also see – World Test Championship Schedule
Having tried Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant with varying degrees of success, Virat and co. finally seemed to have settled at a rather unlikely candidate - Ravindra Jadeja.
Jadeja has always been a valuable all-rounder and has made useful contributions every now and then batting at 8. He was often used as a pinch-hitter down the order sent before declaration to increase the scoring rate. However, in the last few series, he has been played as a proper middle order batsman at number six - stabilising the innings and building partnerships.
81, 58, 1*, 16, 30*, 40, 91, 51, 60* (latest) at an average of 69.40, in his last nine innings is higher than Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the last 6 matches. This would be enough to get him in the side based on his batting abilities alone, but his primary skill as a bowler has also fetched him 19 wickets in this time.
The biggest benefit of having Jadeja at number six is that he is one of India's first choice spinner. Also bringing his insane fielding abilities to the plate, Jadeja looks like he has all boxes ticked at the moment.
Jadeja's batting would also be a sigh of relief for Kohli, as the otherwise strong lower order of Saha and Ashwin has been pretty weak in the recent past. Saha, with an average of 15.57 in the last two years, is a part of this team solely based on his keeping skills and Ashwin, who averages 17.05 with the bat, has put his previous all-rounder tag in a doubtful state.
This will also make him the preferred candidate on pitches that allow only one spinner to be played. The big gap in the batting skills of Jadeja and Ashwin more than compensates the small difference in their bowling numbers.
The stability that Jadeja offers at number six has also allowed Kohli to field five bowlers on numerous occasions, which is a great benefit when one of them is not having a good day, which does not happen often for India these days anyway.